Do you schedule off days? Do you make it a discipline? Not working is just as important as working. In fact, it is crucial to ensuring high quality output.
Saturday was my off day. Completely off. It was another hot and muggy day up here in the tropical far north and I refused to countenance even the thought of work or writing.
I reinstalled Diablo 3 and enjoyed a couple of hours of gameplay. It’s the start of the rugby league season, and we cheered the North Queensland Cowboys on that evening, even as they were getting smashed by the Roosters. Other than that, I pretty much lounged around all day, doing nothing and thoroughly enjoying it.
Do you find yourself unable to stop thinking about your work after work hours, or even on self-assigned off days? Being unable to pull back is not a sign of dedication, it’s a sign of underlying problems.
Are you unconsciously driven by unhealthy motivations? Unhealthy motivations often drive you to unreasonable actions that prove unsustainable and self-defeating in the long-term.
Are you overextending yourself as a result of poor boundary management? Perhaps you have a problem with saying, “No,” to taking on more than you can healthily manage. If so, you need to examine why.
It is very important to practice disengaging from work.
Everything we do draws on physical and non-physical, psychological and emotional, resources. We have the innate ability to replenish what we consume everyday, however that ability is contingent on physical and non-physical rest.
Sitting on a beach in your bathers with a martini in hand doesn’t work if your mind is still churning away, grinding at problems to solve, worrying about your next deadline and how you’re going to meet it.
Switching off is no longer natural to us. It is a skill we have lost due to disuse, and therefore, like any other rusty skill, we need to get back into the habit of using it, and activating it at will, through dedicated practice.
Start by scheduling a mandatory off day once a week. Ideally, you should schedule some solo time on your off day, where you can go off and be alone for several hours.
What do you do during these hours? The thought must be terrifying to you if you’ve never done this before!
Well, you can start with something simple. How about enjoying a coffee and a book at a local cafe? Have a beach nearby? Get away to it, with a beach towel, sunscreen and bathers. Sunbake, have a swim.
If you have difficulties getting your mind to switch off, now is a good time to practice mind stilling techniques. Meditation is best done daily, however, once a week is better than none. Try a yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong class at your local community centre.
You can’t get from all out to nothing in a week, even a month. You’ll drive yourself nuts and it’ll be an unsustainable effort. So start by winding down slowly. Just make sure you do it every week, once a week.